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"I can't wait to fly one... ""The Eta-9c Xesh 2, typically referred to as simply the Xesh Fighter was a starfighter designed by VMEW and produced by Ikest Industries during the RLF/Imperial War. It was renowned for its service under the Republic Liberation Forces during the war, and after the creation of the People's Galactic Alliance.
— Vilda Kazyanenko, upon seeing the Xesh 2
CharacteristicsEditThe Xesh was an angular, narrow fighter that resembled a triangle when viewed from above, the shape of the Aurebesh letter, "Xesh". It was built for stealth, speed, and maneuverability over all else, although it was equipped with light deflector shields and four repeating blaster cannons. Intended for purely defensive purposes, the blasters were prone to overheating after prolonged periods of fire. The large, forward "prongs" of the Xesh were devoted to an advanced sensor and jamming array, enabling intensive and detailed scans of any target, while the jammers were powerful enough to sever the communications of starships as big as light cruisers. These were the primary instruments of its main role as a reconnaissance craft and advance scout, allowing for blistering runs through the far reaches of enemy space to take surveillance footage and scan strategic targets before escaping to hyperspace to report its findings. For this reason, Xesh fighters typically acted alone on their missions, acting in pairs only when the augmented amount of sensor recordings was worth the increased risk of detection.
While the concept of the Xesh being used in extended combat did not factor heavily into its design, with its combination of speed and maneuverability, the Xesh proved to be a formidable fighter in numerous engagements during the RLF/Imperial war. The highly decorated Crimson Squadron popularized the notion of the Xesh as a pure starfighter after using them to great effect in the defense of the RLF flagship Devi and the invasion of Coruscant. Squadrons of Xesh fighters are still maintained to defend capital ships on long-range missions, or patrols in unfamiliar systems.
DevelopmentEditThe Xesh was comissioned by then Commander-in-Chief of the RLF Selkisto Horten, in recognition of the limitations of the first Xesh, the Eta-8 "Xesh 1", but also of its potential to serve in a broader role. The VMEW design team of the Xesh 1 went back to work on the fighter, with the primary goals of increasing its range, the power of its sensor package, and its survivability. While the general design of the resulting fighter followed the established characteristics of its predecessor, it applied dramatic changes, including the addition of a class 1.0 hyperdrive, deflector shielding, two blaster cannons, a drastically upgraded sensor and jamming suite, a reconfiguration of its folding radiator panels, and finally, two tiny cargo compartments for survival equipment and rations. Seeking to test the absolute limits of the design, the first batch of prototypes, officially named the XF-39, had their engine output maxed out to extreme levels, and were equipped with modular projectile launchers, intended for firing drones and other automated sensor or communication devices at long range into an area of interest. Crimson Squadron, the recipient of most of these fighters, quickly discovered that the prototypes' multi-launchers could also be used to fire missiles of varying yields. While feedback from Crimson Squadron was positive, VMEW found the prjected production costs to be far too high, especially for what was essentially a guerilla force. The fighter was simplified, although some elements of the enhanced prototypes would be used in the PF-1 Aurek project, which was heavily influenced by the design of the second Xesh fighter.
Selkisto Horten delivered the final datatapes of the "Eta-9c Xesh 2", along with the revised Vev, to Grunda Ikest in a secret meeting on Onderon, some time before the end of the Imperial occupation. Ikest Industries went to great lengths to fabricate and then standardize the dearth of new custom parts, as the sensor array and ion engine structure were especially complex and work-intensive. For this reason, production of the Xesh was especially lethargic for several months, as core components and spare parts were manufactured and perfected. During this period, Crimson Squadron continued to use their prototypes, Finally, after nearly a year, small numbers of the Xesh fighters began to trickle out of Ikest Industries, where they were quickly put to use by the Republic Liberation Front.
Onderon and the Attack on the DeviEdit
For much of the war the fighter was showcased by Crimson Squadron and their XF-39's, although it swiftly gained notoriety as the "Xesh fighter," easily replacing the relatively unknown and uncommon Xesh 1 in all capacities. After the Imperial occupation ended, the fighter figured prominently in patrols of Onderon, and defense of the Onderon System. It became a common sight on Iziz, as Crimson Squadron and other members of the RLF returned to the city.
It was over Onderon that the Xesh fighter was featured in Crimson Squadron's most famous battle, the Attack on the Devi. When a squadron of TrIE fighters, lead by Imperial Executor Ardonis Commodore, attacked the RLF flagship, the decorated squadron of Xesh fighters engaged in brutal combat with them in the defense of the cruiser. Crimson Squadron destroyed or crippled all of the Imperial fighters, although Ardonis and one of his men crash-landed into the cruiser. After the captain of the Devi initiated the reactor overload that lead to its destruction, Crimson Squadron used their Xeshes' sensor packages to track down and rescue the many escape pods used by the flagship's former crew.
Invasion of CoruscantEdit
While designed primarily for scouting missions, it was regarded as a viable interceptor after the dogfighting above Onderon, and was deployed in the invasion of Coruscant in both roles, providing intelligence leading up to the assault, and fighting off Imperial TrIE fighters during the fateful space battle. Crimson Squadron again established their prominence, escorting vital gunships filled with ground troops to the surface of the planet after punching through the Imperial blockade.
The People's Galactic AllianceEdit
The creation of the People's Galactic Alliance nearly spelled the end for the Xesh fighter, although an upgraded Xesh, the Xesh 2 Mk II, came into use, the only difference being the conversion of the cockpit into an emergency escape pod. It became far less useful to a burgeoning Republic navy concerned more with internal security than gurilla tactics or spy missions, and the Xesh was used only grudgingly as a space fighter, while slowly being relegated to a more accessory role of an advanced scout, supporting large fleet actions and tracking, but rarely engaging pirates or other space-bourne threats. The Aurek was eventually adopted as the standard space-superiority fighter of the PGAF, and the Xesh faded from use. However, the onset of the war with the Revenant Armada called many Xesh fighters back into use for aggressive intelligence-gathering missions. A new variant was created, the Mk III, with improved control systems, an upgraded sensor suite, and sporting perfected blaster cannons that experienced no negative effects from excess heat, although the new model eliminated the escape pod function of the cockpit. The Xesh 2 Mk III saw increasing use on Nar Shadaa and on the fringes of the Empress Teta system.
The majority of operational Xesh fighters serve as training craft for PGAF Navy pilots moving on to fly Aureks in the PGA's expanding fighter defense force, due to possessing controls nearly identical to those of the new ship. The reconnaissance fighter is largely used only sparingly in battle, with a stronger emphasis on non-combat support missions, like surveillance or light patrols. Older cruisers and capital ships maintain Xesh compliments for defense against other fighters, but these will likely eventually be replaced by squadrons of the new Aurek once their service bays are retrofitted to accommodate them. The Xesh is issued as a standard starfighter to the elite A.I.R. commando division.